Winemaker's Blog


Winemaker Ariki Hill

Rick Hill  June 2014
By Winemaker, Ariki Hill
The beginning of June is an exciting time of year for many reasons...
Firstly, as a winemaker, it signals the first period of warmer weather where the wines begin to come out of hibernation. The gentle hiss of trapped CO2 as the bungs are loosened, and any remaining sugar or malic acid is quietly metabolised. We start to see the wines develop their varietal character versus the previously primary, grapey flavours initially present. We also start to pick favourite barrels which have potential to finish in a single vineyard cuvee but also consider those barrels where the new oak makes a bold statement and could be allocated to other cuvees. The style of Tantara wines is such that we keep each barrel as complete as possible. This is achieved by a single rack from barrel to barrel during June & July which serves to remove the wine from the settled lees. The wines tend to throw off awkward reductive flavours and become more fruit driven. After that, the regular maintence is topping, sulphur additions and regular tastings.
We also turn our attention to the vineyards which at this point are in full growth phase. Beginning June, frost risk has passed and we are able to evaluate fruit set. Having tasted the previous vintage wines in barrel we review our contractual obligation with our various vineyard sources and add or remove options with quality and economics in mind. An example might be a reduction or increase of tonnage or the introduction of a new clone or even a new variety.
We follow this up with a visit to the vineyards usually with the grower / vineyard manager in tow. We make reference to the previous vintage, what worked and what didn’t . We make a mental note of the early crop levels and potential disease conditions and make foolhardy predictions about drought, rainfall , heat.. pretty much anything really...
WINERY.. The new Marsannay french oak barrels are really good..lower impact while respecting fruit
             ...Dierberg & Bentrock Pinot Noir , Zotovich Chardonnay.. at this early point , they have me excited
             .. continue to be amazed by the quality and intensity of fruit from Ingeborg / Mateos vineyard in Santa Ynez
VINEYARD..rain and heat in April & May gave everything a good growth push including weeds
                 ... some shatter in pinot and chardonnay ( non fertile berries ) which I don’t think is a bad thing..
                 ... solid crop loads but not as heavy as 2013..some lots are very light Rio Vista Calera clone..